MEXICO CITY – Authorities carrying out a new investigation of the 2014 abduction of 43 students at Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero have arrested an army officer, sources close to the case told EFE on Friday.
Capt. Jose Martinez Crespo reported voluntarily to the stockade at a military base in Mexico City and gave a statement to prosecutors, according to the sources.
Families of the victims were informed of the arrest Thursday night.
Crespo, who was assigned to the 27th Infantry Battalion in Iguala, Guerrero, at the time of the mass kidnapping, is accused of racketeering.
On the night of Sept. 26, 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School, a rural, all-male teacher training college known for its leftist activism, were attacked in Iguala after they had commandeered buses to travel to Mexico City for a protest.
Six people – including three students – were killed, 25 were injured and 43 students were abducted and are presumed dead.
The administration of then-president Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration concluded in early 2015 that the students had been killed by members of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang after being abducted by municipal cops acting on the orders of Iguala’s corrupt mayor, and that their bodies were incinerated at a waste dump in the nearby town of Cocula.
Peña Nieto insisted that the federal security forces were not involved in the crime.
But the parents of the missing students rejected the official account from the start and a group of international experts who examined the case pointed to numerous problems with authorities’ version of events.
Two days after taking office in December 2018, Mexico’s current president, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, signed a decree for the creation of a truth commission to get to the bottom of the case. Six months later, the federal attorney general’s office established a special, independent unit to conduct the probe.
“I offer you apologies in the name of the state because we are facing a great injustice committed by the Mexican state,” Lopez Obrador told the families in September during a ceremony at the National Palace to mark the sixth anniversary of the crime.
The mass abduction “was a matter of state” because police and military personnel were involved in the crime, so the state “has to repair the damage and clarify what happened,” the president said then.
“For us this is positive news,” the attorney representing the Ayotzinapa families, Vidulfo Rosales, told EFE on Friday in regard to Crespo’s arrest.
Warrants have been issued for other military officers, the lawyer said, without offering any details.